Friday, January 30, 2009


After much delay, I can now share some pictures of the views here. Take a look at:

Sorry that they are out of order, the building pics are from a business lunch I had on the 21 floor of a building, and the boardwalk pictures are taken about a 15 minute walk from my apartment. Doesn't it make you want to come visit?!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

University, Eyebrows, Rain, and Nouns (didn't think you could make a title out of those things did ya?)

Yesterday, I took advantage of my day off of language. I spent the morning cleaning the apartment, then in the afternoon I got a tour of one of the major universities in the city. It was beautiful. It was definitly different than the rest of the city here. The university is spacious, and has lots of nice landscape and big trees and a great view. It was odd, cause usually when I am at places like this, dad is taking lots of plant pictures. I almost stopped to take some for him, but then I would definitly look out of place.

Afterwards we went and got our eyebrows done. I know the stereotype here is that everyone has a unibrow, but not at all the case in my country. Although the men's may be a little bushy, all the ladies' are very defined and beautiful. They "thread" here, which means they use this thread to remove the hair. Really hard to describe.

Today, it rained. Have you ever walked in a busy city in the rain with an umbrella? It was definitly a learning process for me. Trying to keep myself dry, not step in the odd puddles formed by uneven sidewalks, and watch to make sure that my umbrella did not poke someone else's eye out all at the same time (in addition to the traffic)!

In Arabic, there are not any rules for pluralization of nouns (ie, tree => trees, box=>boxes). Well actually there is kinda one rule for anytime you have 2 of something. There is a singular noun, a 2 noun, and a plural noun used for nouns 3-10. So, since there are no rules, I have to memorize at least the singular and plural forms of all the nouns. So I get to use my handy-dandy flashcards! (I do admit, that I did have some fun making multicolor flashcards, nerdy, huh?)
For example:
1 house = beit
2 houses = beitein
3-10 houses = byuut

1 brother = xayy
2 brothers = xayyein
3 brothers= Aiwa

1 sister = Aixit
2 sisters = Aixtein
3 sisters = Aixweet

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A funny thing happened on the way home from language school...

So I almost laughed outloud today on the street. There was this taxi driver parked on the corner. You see taxis from waxy, bright red, almost antique-looking mercedes, to cars that it is uncertain what color they really are under all the soot, and with a bummer half on, half off. So some really take care of their taxis, and others well, don't at all. Anyways, the taxi driver on the corner today was cleaning his car. He was "dusting" the outside of the car. Can you guess what utensil he had chosen for this task?
A feather duster! yes, the taxi driver was dusting the outside of his car with a feather duster! I'll let you guess what kind of taxi he had!

Oh and another side note, when was the last time you watched the weather forecast to help you decide when to do your laundry? This was a first for me this week. And I think it is working. Lets hope that my laundry dries in less than 2 days. Oh, and I got up extra early to start the laundry so that the washer would finish its 1.5 hour cycle before the power went off at 9AM. Not to complain, but I am just laughing at myself and my daily life here today. Who would have thought?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Don'tcha just love surprises?!

Here are some big and small surprises that I have had here. Some good, some not so good. Listed in no order. What do you think...surprise! or duh, Laura, you should have known that.
  • Pepsi is more common than Coke here. I though Coke was more international. While you can get Coke here, (and its many different flavors, I find Pepsi more)
  • You can use US dollars here
  • It is humid in this part of the Middle East. Yah, I knew that coming in, but still, it is a surprise!
  • There is not free wireless internet everywhere. yah, I knew it would not be the same as home, but you would think with so many people living in apts so close together in a big city would could pick up someones' unsecured interenet somewhere, but it is hard to come by.
  • You have no central heat and air? Huh, did not know that that was not standard, like putting windows in a building. I have never lived somewhere where a couple of small gas/electric heaters are my heat source. Can't wait till summer, to see how cooling works, we don't have ceiling fans, so we will just have to see!
  • My skype won't let me call people, because of the internet connection
  • Almost everyone here speaks some English
  • There are 3 Arabic langauge: the common spoken, the religious, and the one used in news and media. I am learning the common spoken (which includes slang). But every country has its own dialect, so good luck when visiting other countries.
  • They conjugate both nouns and verbs
  • Even though they don't write the vowels in print media and signs, there are still vowels, and I should know what they are, where they are and if they are long or short. huh?!
  • Everyone here that I have talked to watched the inauguration and is hopeful that the new administration will be better for them, and they want my opinion. Just smile and nod! Also several people here have mentioned JFK.
  • In Arabic class, I was learning how to ask and respond to who a person is and their name and nationality. All fine and good, except when my tutor pulled out cue cards to use. I knew Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Mel Gibson, George Bush, but did not know some of the other more local political figures that she put up. So I need to do some homework! I look like a stupid American who just decided to move to a foreign country on a whim!
  • I don't have a tv or microwave. (and that means no dvd player, tape player, or wii---Tyler)
  • I have not found in lunchmeat in the stores or cheddar cheese. I made a quesadilla today with mozarella. But hey, I found tortillas and salsa!
  • I have concrete walls, so to hang things we use these mount things, instead of nails. And we broke at least half a dozen of them today, while trying to decorate.
  • One of our neighbors that we meant has a lot of furniture. She invited us in and her living room, which is about the size of mine in Oklahoma, maybe just longer shaped, and it had 3 sitting areas. Each complete with a couch and 2 chairs all that matched, but each sitting area was a different color. Imagine trying to decide where she wants you to sit! But after a tour of her apt, she told us she had 5 salons (living rooms), because there is a bedroom also converted into a salon and a seperate tv watching room by the kitchen!
  • A can of Dr. Pepper is 75 cents and a bag of imported Tostitos (my fav) is $6.
  • We can rent the newest American TV shows by the episode here. Oh course, I don't because I don't have a tv, but I have watched some at other people's places.
  • What do you do when you have a break at your business training? Everyone goes and smokes outside.
  • It is not rude here to light up while sitting next to others, or even at the same booth in a restaraunt. Even before the almost complete no smoking laws in OK, we always sat in nonsmoking. So to have the people across from you or next to you smoking is a little different.

I am sure I have been surprised by many other things here, but I think this list is rather long so far. I will let you know other surprises as they come along.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A good day!

I should be doing Arabic homework now, but I just wanted to update you all on my good day. Wednesdays I have off of Arabic, so I planned to sleep in. Well I got up about an hour later than intended, but that still was nice. I did about an hour of language homework, before my roomate and I got distracted by youtube videos (which take forever to download here.) I had intended to do about 3 hours of homework, opps.

Then for lunch/dinner, I went to one of my coworkers homes for an ethnic meal. It was so refreshing to talk with them! Next I went to another meeting and got to meet some locals and play games. And finally, on my way home, I stopped at our local convience store, to talk to one of our neighbors that works there. I was able to say, "hello," answer "I'm good," ask "how are you?" ask how to say a word that I am having trouble with, and say "thanks, bye." And of course I had to buy something to justify going in there, so I walked away with a Dr. Pepper, a dark chocolate bar, and a peanut butter granola bar, and a big smile! (I am saving all the food for later though! Dr. Pepper is expensive here, but I made out with everything for $1.50)
So today was good!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Yani (so)... I kept hearing people say "yani" so I caught my language teacher off guard today and asked her "shoe yani?" (what yani?) and it means "so." Yah, I don't know why you need to know that, but anyways... Language learning is difficult.

I have a new teacher this week. It is interesting to see the different styles of both. I can laugh alot more at myself with my new one, but at the same time, I think she gave up on me today, when after 5 times I still could not say "gayn" (at least that is the closest I can type it) It requires a gargling noise. And there is also a simmilar letter with a sharper gargle "Gayn." So to say the least I am stuggling a little. But what can I be thankful for here? Let's see...I have a book with dvd that I can listen to to practice (which I have done for 2 hours a day for the last week pretty much). I have a teacher for 12 hours a week to spend one on one time with me learning the language. I have a roomate, who is 6 months ahead of me in language to help when I get stuck, and in the mean time while I am still learning, I do have most signs written in English for me in my city. And, of course there is what I hear my mom saying in my head, "you can do hard things!"

Yani, the apartment is coming along. We have curtains and have arranged the rooms a little better now. We have a washer which takes only an hour and a half to wash a load, which I hear is good, cause my roomate's old one took 3 hours. It is so humid here that I finally gave up on my clothes drying after I had hung them up for 2 days! The interesting thing is that in the midst of all the humidity that this chalk-fine dust collects everywhere! I mean, you can't even lean against the wall or a door without getting it on you. I guess I am going to have to learn better posture and not to lean. :)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Random Arabic Thoughts

SO the first week has been good. I am learning alot and exploring alot. I took the taxi today by myself and took a different walking route to language study today. Language is 16 hours a week, right now with a private tutor. I have listening homework on dvds, and assignments to talk to people. So that is good.

I had my first dinner in a home here yesterday and it was soo much fun. We had french fries and fried chicken not very ethnic but good. We laughed alot!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I am here!

Wow! I made it. Internet here is a little sketchy, so I am sorry that I have not been able to post sooner. I made it in Sunday at 2AM with all my luggage. Yay! Since then I have moved into my apartment. Pictures to come later :) It is nice. The team here is wonderful. I am getting my bearings in my neighborhood. There is a fastfood restaurant next door to my apartment building enntrance and a small "convience store" on the other side. We live on the 1st floor which is technically the 2nd floor. All of our neighbors on this floor are businesses so it stays quieter at night. One of our neighbors on the floor above us works in the convience store next door and she wants to help me learn Arabic. Another BIG yay!
The first day was spent meeting the team. The second day was shopping! We have 4 sets of huge sliding glass doors in the apartment that open up to our private courtyard, which desperately need curtains. We ordered some and they should be here Saturday along with a bookshelf. I bought some bedding and then was disappointed that it does not look anything like the picture on the package, so if I can I am going to try to exchange it. My roomate and I also went grocery shopping and created our own chili the second night.
Yesterday, I got to unpack somemore, get a little more oriented, and then we had ladies night complete with tacos! Today was my first language lesson. I learned 6 letters, some greetings, and here, there, what is this, who is this and the correct responses. For "who" my teacher had pictures of people like Tom Cruise, the Beatles, John Travolta, Julia Roberts, UK Royalty and then political figures here. Lets say that I was a little embarrased that I had no idea who the political people were.
Oh, and the second night I went to a Pro. Basketball game here, which is a 15 minute story in itself, so you will have to ask me about that in person.
Over all I am very thankful for all that I have found here. Can't wait to tell you more! Will update more soon...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Now I am ready

Now I am ready! I am driving (or actually riding while mom drives) home from shopping in Oklahoma City. Just to answer the question everyone asks, yes I am ready. All that is left is the puzzle/challenge of getting everything packed into my four 50 lb checked pieces and two carry-ons! Today, I finally got my third and fourth (XL, 60 linear inches, lightweight) luggage pieces. I had my last American haircut for a couple of years. I got 2 pairs of really comfy walking dress shoes, and a really nice dressy light raincoat. Guys, keep reading… I also invested in an ipod touch! It feels good to have the shopping done, except for a few toiletries that I will get from Wal-mart! All ya’ll who know what I bargain hunter I am know how much work it takes me to find what I want, so it is a BIG blessing that I have finally gotten all that done.

Okay, if you can’t tell from that first paragraph, one of my biggest tempations is materials. So I have to watch myself. But these are things that I will need for two years (mom had to remind me of that several times).

I am also ready, now because I have gotten to visit with most of you in person, and say “see ya laters.” I have been encouraged by friends, spoken to likeminded groups, done some heavy lifting up and laughed at and with family. Thank you for taking the time out of your holiday season to go to lunch and hang out with me. (I really want to plead with you all to try not to do anything over the next two years so that I don’t miss anything, but I know that would just be selfish.) Thank you for asking the tough questions of me. I hope I answered them well, a lot is still unknown. But to answer the other most frequent questions, no I am not scared. He has taken any fear away; He is faithful. And YES, I am excited!

I am also ready, and feel prepared by my 2 months of training. It was a real blessing. I learned so much and met some amazing people. Even though I am ready, I think that once I get there I will be shocked. I will have to take a big look and around, pinch myself twice and realize that the place that I have been working to get to for a whole year is finally here!

Hopefully, I will update you before I leave on the 9th, but if not, then I will let you know when I arrive. (Or even possibly give you an update during my 11 hour layover on the 10th.)